Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 2, 2002 - Political Science - 290 pages
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Conventional wisdom suggests that citizens in many countries have become disengaged from the traditional channels of political participation. Commentators highlight warning signs including sagging electoral turnout, rising anti-party sentiment, and the decay of civic organizations. But are these concerns justified? This book compares systematic evidence for electoral turnout, party membership, and civic activism in countries around the world and suggests good reasons to question assumptions of decline. Not only is the obituary for older forms of political activism premature, but new forms of civic engagement may have emerged in modern societies to supplement traditional modes. Political participation appears to have evolved over the years, in terms of the agencies, actions used for political expression, and political actors that participants seek to influence. The process of societal modernization and rising levels of human capital are primarily responsible, although participation is also explained by the structure of the state, the role of agencies, and social inequalities.
  

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Contents

The Decline and Fall of Political Activism?
3
Theories of Political Activism
19
Mapping Turnout
35
Do Institutions Matter?
58
Who Votes?
83
Mapping Party Activism
103
Who Joins?
119
Social Capital and Civic Society
137
Traditional Mobilizing Agencies Unions and Churches
168
New Social Movements Protest Politics and the Internet
188
Conclusions The Reinvention of Political Activism?
215
Comparative Framework
225
Notes
231
Selected Bibliography
267
Index
282
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